Thieves have been looting ambulances in six different Texas cities to take expensive specialized stretchers.
They first struck around Thanksgiving, and are thought to have stolen about 12 stretchers across the state. So far they have swiped stretchers in Temple, San Antonio, Georgetown, Austin, Houston and Round Rock.
These Stryker stretchers, which are sold at $10,000 or more depending on what features you install, run on a battery operated assist system that helps raise and lower the stretcher. This helps reduce injury to paramedics who would otherwise have to lift the stretchers.
"It's mainly employed by EMS (emergency medical services) agencies. It's pretty specialized," Dave Reimer, the executive director of Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council, told ABC News today.
According to Reimer, the perpetrators have mostly been striking at night when the ambulances are parked and locked. They break into the ambulance and steal the stretchers.
"The people who are taking them maybe somewhat familiar with them [the stretchers] to be able to maneuver them efficiently," said Reimer. "The investigation is still pending, however."
Despite the obvious price tag, Reimer was puzzled by the thefts because "there is not really a market for it except to EMS agencies because it's pretty specialized."
"We don't really know what their intention is," said Reimer. "We're guessing that they're trying to make money out of it somehow though."